New talks between North Korea and South Korea seem to have been fruitful. These two countries, at war since 1950, have agreed in three points and issued a joint statement.

The negotiations lasted for over 10 hours and it was the first official meeting since December 2015. This was a delicate situation, not only between the two countries, but regarding the United States as well: South Korea did not want this meeting to create tensions with one of its greatest allies.

However, president Trump affirmed there would be no military action during the talks, and said that “hopefully it will lead to success for the world, not just for our country, but for the world.” He later also revealed that there have been talks, “a lot of good talks”, between the United States and North Korea. This seems like a positive outcome to what had been a very escalating year between the two countries. Especially since regarding nuclear weapons, North Korea will only discuss it with the United States and not with South Korea, nor China or Russia.

It was the South which had, for a long time, proposed to initiate talks that Pyongyang accepted on 5th January. One of the reasons for it might have been the Pyeongchang Olympics Games, the Winter Olympics taking place in South Korea. North Korean athletes had managed to qualify for them, but did not register in time; however, the International Olympic Committee kept the invitation open for a delegation. In 1988, when the last Olympics in South Korea took place (in Seoul), North Korea did not send a delegation.

During the talks, other than the fact that North Korea decided to send a national delegation to the Olympics, the three issues that were agreed to and announced in the statement were “agreeing to work to ease military tensions, hold military-to-military talks, and reopen the inter-Korean military hotline”. Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, said that “the re-establishment and strengthening of such channels is critical to lowering the risk of miscalculation or misunderstanding and to reduce tensions in the region”. Finally, Seoul also asked that during the Olympics, a reunion would take place between separated families.

All of these events made the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, make a statement on the very important issue. She sees the talks as “encouraging signal, representing a positive step towards the improvement of inter-Korean relations”. Moreover, she hopes that additional meetings will be “a building block for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula”. Finally, she talked about the European Union’s role regarding the situation, by saying the Union will “continue to work towards this goal”, of mainly maintaining dialogue for the countries’ denuclearization.

The European Union has been very present in the Korean issue, wanting to be a kind of moderator and continually working for peaceful resolutions. With these new developments, it might finally and definitely have that role in the future.

 

Carolina Duarte de Jesus

For further information:

“EU welcomes outcome of inter-Korean talks as positive step for Koreas’ relations”, Yonhap News Agency, 2018, [consulted online on 11/01/2018]. http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr

“Inter-Korean talks hailed as positive sign to ease tensions on peninsula”, Xinhua News, 2018, [consulted online on 11/01/2018]. http://www.xinhuanet.com

HOLLAND Steve and KIM Christine, “Trump, on the possibility of North Korea talks, says: ‘Who knows where it leads?’”, Reuters, 2018, [consulted online on 11/01/2018]. http://uk.reuters.com

LEE Taehoon and MCKIRDY Euan, “North Korea accepts South’s offer to meet for talks”, CNN, 2018, [consulted online on 11/01/2018]. http://edition.cnn.com